Hyundai’s “suicide ad” was a really bad idea

Hyundai produced an ad to showcase how environmentally-friendly their cars are.  In fact, the new hydrogen-powered Hyundai ix35 has 100 percent water in its exhaust.  Thus, if you’re trying to kill yourself with your car, you won’t be able to.  And Hyundai decided to show people this fact, in an ad.

Some days you have to wonder who thinks up advertisements like this and how anyone approves them. The ad has been pulled from the air, but the damage is already done.

It doesn’t take much to find depression in every family and suicide is never far away. As much as I like a good joke, this was not funny. I don’t think that I’m alone when I say that this was a seriously bad idea by Hyundai.

The ad keeps getting pulled from YouTube, so if it doesn’t work below, try this YouTube link and attempt a few of the other videos.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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41 Responses to “Hyundai’s “suicide ad” was a really bad idea”

  1. kurtsteinbach says:

    Well we did get the hilarious, “I ran over the Taco Bell Dog,” song from Adam Sandler. When comedians and everyone starts to treat your product as a joke, it’s time to end the campaign unless you’re trying to sell Bozo the Clown….

  2. karmanot says:

    The newest outrage is a frosting commercial that mocks the SPCA abused animals ad, by claiming abused cakes could use a little love with canned frosting.

  3. William Brinkman says:

    That wasn’t a real ad. It was a student project, and the car company wasn’t too happy about it when it appeared on YouTube.

  4. Papa Bear says:

    Whenever I feel tempted, I put on my old Steve Goodman album:


  5. Papa Bear says:

    Not much he can do to stop it, what with being dead and all…

  6. karmanot says:

    “Or worse, it’s a scam” Oh, have I ever been there. One late night I saw an advertizement for ‘At home rug repair’ for only $19.99 plus S&H. The S&H turned out to be nearly ten bucks. So for about $30.00 I got a tiny little package ‘Made in Taiwan’ that contained instructions in Chinese, English and Russian, along with a pair of tiny plastic tweezers, scissors and a teeny vile of glue. One was supposed to ‘harvest’ ‘elements’ from other places on the rug and glue them into the damaged areas. It was then that I realized that end stage Capitalism would destroy the universe.

  7. karmanot says:

    I know that feeling. Watching the opening of the Dubya Shrine I wanted a hot soapy shower and a steel bristle brush.

  8. Indigo says:

    Aha! The plot sickens . . . uh . . . thickens.

  9. Naja pallida says:

    Psy has been advertising pistachios.

  10. Naja pallida says:

    I was waiting for the smokeless ashtray to go on sale. :(

  11. Naja pallida says:

    Some days, I just don’t feel so fresh.

  12. Naja pallida says:

    I will admit I’ve been intrigued enough by many “As Seen On TV” products to go look up information on them, at least. But the reviews on almost every product are exactly the same, and it is a pretty safe bet that if it’s advertised on a late-night infomercial, it’s a piece of complete garbage, and not even worth the packaging it came in. Or worse, it’s a scam, where they keep charging your credit card for “refills” of some sort, and the company is impossible to contact to cancel, so it necessitates you basically canceling your credit card to get rid of them.

  13. karmanot says:

    Turban and matching gown with love pockets.

  14. karmanot says:

    Yep, but when he starts pushing reverse mortgages, it all over with.

  15. karmanot says:

    Except for Boeing and Lockheed of course.

  16. karmanot says:

    Well, at the dinner last week we did see a Trojan vibrator Ad, in which a down class version of the Stepford wives seemed to indicate that smiling faces and happy time could be had by all. It was followed by an anti-depressant Ad and then a feminine itch and odor product, that could cause brain cancer and embolisms.

  17. karmanot says:

    This is becoming more evident. It seems that some 20 somethings have turned advertising into some goth joke.

  18. I suppose it’s vaguely possible that advertising has had subtle effects on my purchases, even though I can’t think of a single instance when I’ve consciously bought anything I’ve seen in a commercial. But possibly a sustained advertising campaign can get a particular name or brand stuck in your head so that, months down the line while browsing in a shop, the probability of choosing that brand over another is increased. I’ve seen it suggested that this is the true point of advertising campaigns that you might otherwise think were completely off-putting by their sheer relentless or by their stupidity–you might wince at them, but they still get the name lodged in your brain.

    I just don’t know and I’m not sure that the advertising men know either, or even care that much. I suspect it’s one of those professions where the consequences of failure are slight, rather like being a stock market expert or a fortune-teller.

  19. Haha! “Help me, Mr. Popeil!” Has there ever been a worse inventor who actually got money from his inventions?

  20. john says:

    They could’ve shown how useful it could be for American water torture (waterboarding). That would probably sell a lot of cars.

  21. Papa Bear says:

    (Gasp) Not even the “in the shell egg scrambler”? You’re positively in-human!


  22. Indigo says:

    South Korean anyone? Gangnam style?

  23. Haviva says:

    It must be for the British market. Right side steering. Was the ad done by British ad people?

  24. Naja pallida says:

    Despite all the statistics and accounting claiming it does, I have trouble believing advertising actually works. I mean, do you actually feel swayed to buy certain products because you saw them in a particularly witty ad? Have you ever bought a car based on how cool it looked in the commercial? Did the Taco Bell Dog ever make you decide to eat at Taco Bell instead of another fast food restaurant? I appreciate a good, memorable ad for its entertainment value, but I can’t ever remember a time where I saw an ad and it made me just want to rush out and buy the product.

  25. ‘How racism by Hyundai Motor America and its agents turn a simple request for auto warranty inspection into a gun battle with the Police.’ See the youtube video “Consumer Report: racial retaliation by Hyundai Motor America.” link

  26. I’ve long wondered about advertising campaigns in general. How is it known whether a particular campaign is really a success or not? I suppose that in extreme cases of either runaway popularity or shambolic failure it can be obvious, but surely that’s not often the case. Viral popularity of an ad is not always a hallmark of success; for instance, the infamous Taco Bell Chihuahua ads probably did little good ( even though they’re still remembered.
    Probably I’m wrong here, but I just get the feeling sometimes that being thought of as successful advertising wiz doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve actually helped with anybody’s sales.

  27. George Melby says:

    Yes… THIS ad is sad, really, really sad! I don’t foresee a Honey wagon Hyundai in my future… ever! Biggg thumbs dowwwnnnnn.

  28. SkippyFlipjack says:

    right, but if this was meant to be a viral campaign as reported then it was never meant for TV. (it could always have ended up there if it had gotten popular enough.)

  29. Naja pallida says:

    Seems to me that with YouTube and Twitter basically being a free tool for advertising yourself, that marketing companies would test-market their ads with the public before spending the money on television airtime.

  30. Naja pallida says:

    Hyundai’s marketing department is full of idiots. The sad part is, Hyundai is making some of the best cars they’ve ever made; the Genesis Coupe is a pretty nice car compared to competing cars in its class. But Hyundai got into some hot water a while ago with a commercial that had a cheetah attacking a guy. Then they had one with a lady being stalked by the Grim Reaper and getting run over by a truck. Another stupid one where a guy is being chased by a bunch of post-apocalyptic Mad Max-esque vehicles, and he’s able to outrun them because they run out of gas before he does in his Hyundai. In general, they just really don’t seem to put much sensible thought into their advertising.

  31. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Are you saying that the man in this clip is dressed like the man in the Hyundai commercial? They’re not.

  32. Jim Olson says:

    Most of the advertisements on television these days are head scratchers. This one is just rank.

  33. BeccaM says:

    Yeah… bad idea. And somewhere, some ad designer may well be looking for a new job. I can’t imagine any company wanting its products mentally associated with despair and death.

  34. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Dressed to resemble an Arab? I don’t get that.

  35. Stev84 says:

    I kinda like the idea, but the way it’s shot is very boring

  36. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Did this actually make it on the air? The titles don’t seem quite finished and the lack of voiceover makes me wonder if someone released it to the public before it was done. I think it’s an effective ad, if you ignore the way it will offend some people and generate bad publicity.

  37. nicho says:

    There was another ad in which an guy who was dressed to resemble an Arab gets in a car and explodes a bomb, which of course doesn’t hurt anyone — except him — or a make a sound because the car is so tight. Pretty offensive too.

  38. fry1laurie says:

    Good to see George C. Scott getting work again.

  39. Wow. You know, when on Top Gear a couple of years ago Jeremy Clarkson produced a fake ad for a VW showing a man shooting himself in the head, it was actually portrayed as offensive. Somehow Hyundai manages to be more insensitive than Top Gear? Unbelievable.

  40. clarknt67 says:

    This is the sort of thing that amazes me it gets on the air. A national ad is a big deal and surely at least a dozen or more people at the agency and Hyudai’s Corporate headquarters signed off on it.

    And it didn’t cross anyone’s mind to say, “hmmm… maybe suicide isn’t a laugh riot.”

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